Working for Smart Growth:
More Livable Places and Open Spaces


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Jersey Water Works Delegation To Attend National Water Conference

May 26th, 2016 by Elaine Clisham

US Water Alliance logoJersey Water Works is coordinating a 13-person delegation to the U.S. Water Alliance’s One Water Summit in Atlanta June 8-10. The delegation, representative of many of the sectors that make up the core of Jersey Water Works’ committees, includes three members of the collaborative’s Steering Committee. All members of the delegation are supporting members of Jersey Water Works.

Two of the delegates — Drew Curtis and Margaret Waldock — will also appear on panels at the event, and a representative will speak at the closing plenary about Jersey Water Works’ innovative, cross-sector approach to the problem of water infrastructure in the Garden State. Read the rest of this entry »

Three New Jersey Cities Selected To Accelerate Water Infrastructure Innovation

May 25th, 2016 by Jane Rosenblatt

Gloucester City, Jersey City, and Perth Amboy will receive technical assistance and engineering support services to design innovative, financeable projects that reduce combined sewer outflows (CSOs) while also making neighborhoods and downtowns better places to live, work, and invest. 

BIG Slideshow.fw (2).fwNew Jersey Future today announced that three cities – Gloucester City, Jersey City, and Perth Amboy – have been selected by the Build It Green (BIG) Competition to receive technical assistance and engineering support services. The BIG Competition, launched in partnership with re:focus partners and with the generous support of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s New Jersey Health Initiative, will catalyze the design and implementation of integrated, creative projects that reduce combined sewer overflows (CSOs) while generating multiple local environmental and health benefits. For example, roads can be repaved with porous pavement when installing underground broadband infrastructure to improve the economic prospects of local residents and businesses and simultaneously reduce surface water runoff. Read the rest of this entry »

Smart Growth Award-Winner Wesmont Station Opens

May 23rd, 2016 by Elaine Clisham

Wesmont Station 2

Photo courtesy NJ Transit.

Ten years after New Jersey Future presented the ambitious plan for Wesmont Station with a Smart Growth Award, and at least four years after most of the associated new residential development was completed, the new transit stop intended as its anchor has finally opened.

The new stop, on NJ Transit’s Bergen line, allows riders to connect to New York either via a change in Secaucus to go into Penn Station or a change in Hoboken to the PATH network. Early riders from the station have noted their commutes, which used to take more than an hour by bus, have been shortened to approximately 35 minutes. Read the rest of this entry »

Built-Out Places Account for Majority of State’s Population Growth Since 2008

May 20th, 2016 by Tim Evans

Population losses now widespread across the state’s exurban fringe, rural areas

New housing near a Hudson-Bergen Light Rail station in Jersey City. Photo courtesy of NJTPA.

New housing near a Hudson-Bergen Light Rail station in Jersey City. Photo courtesy of NJTPA.

New Jersey Future’s initial analysis of newly released Census data at the municipal level shows the continuation of several important demographic trends in the state. A preliminary look at the data provided the following highlights:

  • Redevelopment is increasingly the new normal. Population growth in places that were already at least 90 percent built-out as of 2007 is now substantially outstripping growth in the rest of the state. These built-out places have grown by 3.5 percent from 2008 to 2015, as opposed to just 2.8 percent statewide.
  • Places that are at least 90 percent built-out accounted for a full two-thirds of statewide population growth (66.4 percent) from 2008 to 2015, after having accounted for only 3.6 percent of statewide growth from 2000 to 2008.
  • Population losses are now widespread across the exurban fringe and rural areas:
    • 20 out of 22 municipalities in Warren County have fewer people in 2015 than they had in 2008.
    • The same is true of 23 out of 24 municipalities in Sussex County.
    • The same is true of 22 out of 26 municipalities in Hunterdon County.
    • In the rural southern end of the state, 2015 populations are smaller than 2008 populations in 14 out of 16 municipalities in Cape May County, 9 out of 14 municipalities in Cumberland County, and 11 out of 15 municipalities in Salem County.
  • The most consistent population gains are happening in the five “urban core” counties closest to New York City — Hudson, Bergen, Passaic, Essex, and Union. Every municipality in all of these five counties except for Irvington has more people as of 2015 than it did in 2008 (and even Irvington is down by only 21 people since 2008). And among the five counties, single-year population losses from 2014 to 2015 are also relatively rare — losses have occurred in only five municipalities in Hudson, only two in Passaic, only one each in Bergen and Essex, and none in Union.
  • Walkable urbanism is also the new normal. From 2008 to 2015, the 118 municipalities that scored well on all three of the main smart-growth metrics that were created for New Jersey Future’s Places to Age project — net activity density, presence of a center, and local street network density — have grown by 4.4 percent, compared to only 2.8 percent for the state as a whole. This is a turnaround from the earlier part of the 2000s, when the high-scoring smart-growth places grew by only 0.5 percent from 2000 to 2008, compared to 3.5 percent for the whole state and 6.4 percent for the 181 municipalities that didn’t score well on any of the three metrics. Those 181 low-scoring municipalities experienced a turnaround in the other direction, growing by only 2.0 percent from 2008 to 2015 — less than half the growth rate of the high-scorers. What’s more, the poor-scoring municipalities remained flat over the last year (0.0 percent change) while the 118 high-scoring municipalities grew by 0.4 percent.
  • The smaller more-urban counties of Camden and Mercer fall somewhere in between. Camden and Trenton both lost population over the last year and for the entire 2008-2015 period, while their suburbs split about evenly between population gainers and population losers, both for the last year and the whole post-2008 period more generally.
  • Looking just at the annual change from 2014 to 2015, rural, exurban, and even some maturing suburban areas fare even worse. In addition to the six counties mentioned above,year-to-year losses are now seen throughout Somerset, Monmouth, Burlington, Gloucester, and Atlantic counties, with more than half the municipalities in each of those counties losing people over the last year.
  • At the macro level, the slowing down of growth on the exurban fringe can be seen most dramatically in the fact that, taken as a group, municipalities that were less than 50 percent built-out as of 2007 actually experienced a small loss of population (-0.3 percent) from 2014 to 2015. On the other hand, the 90-percent-built-out places grew by 0.3 percent, faster than the overall statewide rate of 0.2 percent. For context, the municipalities that are less than 50 percent built-out grew by 10.7 percent from 2000 to 2008 (vs 3.5 percent statewide growth over the same period) and grew by 10.1 percent in the 1990s (compared to 8.6 percent for the state as a whole).

See NJ Spotlight’s interactive map showing population gains and losses by municipality.

Forum Roundup: Green Bonds: Financing our Future

May 18th, 2016 by Jane Rosenblatt

New Jersey’s future infrastructure, resiliency and housing efforts will need billions of dollars of investment over the coming decades. What financing options do New Jersey and its municipalities have?

Participants in Redevelopment Forum 2016's special roundtable on green bonds.

Participants in Redevelopment Forum 2016’s special roundtable on green bonds.

Green bonds are a relatively new financing vehicle specifically for projects that are intended to offer environmental benefits as well as a financial return. But green bonds are still an under-utilized tool in New Jersey. A special roundtable discussion at New Jersey Future’s 2016 Redevelopment Forum explored how green bonds can generate a substantial portion of investment needed to fund green projects, including resiliency efforts and infrastructure upgrades, in New Jersey. Read the rest of this entry »

Leaders From 34 Municipalities Learn About Green Infrastructure

May 17th, 2016 by Kandyce Perry

Attendees from the Pinelands workshop look at a local map and discuss problem spots or barriers, and identify places where green infrastructure opportunities could be explored.

Attendees from the Pinelands workshop look at a local map and discuss problem spots or barriers, and identify places where green infrastructure opportunities could be explored.

As part of New Jersey Future’s effort to mainstream green infrastructure across the state, it recently conducted two workshops for municipal leaders. The goal for these workshops—conducted in partnership with ANJEC, the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions—was to educate local leaders from regions of critical importance to statewide water resources, giving them the knowledge and tools they need to identify opportunities for green infrastructure in their towns and to influence municipal decision making. Mayors, councilmembers, and members of local planning and zoning boards, environmental commissions and green teams, from a total of 20 northwest New Jersey towns and 14 towns in the Pinelands region, attended.

The first workshop, on April 27, in Hopatcong was led by Michele Adams, president of Meliora Design, and Tavis Dockwiller, cofounder of Viridian Landscape Studio (presentation). The second workshop, on May 3 in Egg Harbor Township, was led by Geoff Goll and Jessica Jahre of Princeton Hydro (presentation). Read the rest of this entry »

Infrastructure Matters

May 16th, 2016 by Elaine Clisham

New Jersey Future is participating again this year, along with hundreds of other groups around the country, in Infrastructure Week 2016, to raise awareness about the need to invest in infrastructure as the backbone of our economy, locally and nationally.

Logo_IW_SmallInfrastructure matters, in countless ways large and small, to our economy, our quality of life, our health and safety, and the vibrancy of our communities. Infrastructure matters to companies that manufacture and ship goods, especially in our region, where 40 percent of the country’s population is within a day’s drive. It matters to our daily commutes and our summer vacations. Infrastructure determines if we can drink water straight from our taps and flush our toilets or do our laundry, or enjoy a meal at a restaurant. Ultimately, infrastructure matters to every aspect of our daily lives.

Despite its importance, we seem to accept crumbling infrastructure as the norm: Our bridges need repair, our potholes need filling, our transit service is increasingly unreliable and approaching capacity, and our water pipes can’t handle the demands placed on them. We complain about, but are not willing to spend the funds to fix, any of these problems. Read the rest of this entry »

Fifteen Years of Smart Growth Success

May 13th, 2016 by Lauren Bolline

SGA 2016 slideshowFor the past 15 years, New Jersey Future has been shining a light on New Jersey’s most innovative plans, policies, and development and redevelopment projects through its Smart Growth Awards. Selected with the support of an independent jury of professional developers, architects, planners and local officials, each nomination is reviewed, visited and evaluated against smart-growth principles as well as its contribution to the surrounding community and the state as a whole.

To date, New Jersey Future has recognized 102 projects and 260 organizations with Smart Growth Awards — 44 organizations of which have been honored more than once. Read the rest of this entry »

Chuck Marohn on the Value of Roads, Streets, and People

May 4th, 2016 by Tim Evans

“Pedestrians are the indicator species of success” for a downtown and its main street. This is how Chuck Marohn, founder of the nonprofit group Strong Towns, speaking at a recent event cosponsored by New Jersey Future and the North Jersey Public Policy Network, summed up why it’s counterproductive to treat a street like a road, and reminded his audience of the difference between the two. Roads are for connecting one place to another; streets are for creating value within a place, by serving as the organizing framework for the assortment of destinations that will attract people (and their disposable income). The more people you have, he argued, the more successful a place is. Read the rest of this entry »

Jersey Water Works Releases 2016 Workplan

April 27th, 2016 by Chris Sturm

Focus areas include improving water system efficiency and engaging community members in water-infrastructure investment decisions

Committee meeting

Jersey Water Works committee members finalizing the 2016 work plan.

Jersey Water Works, the cross-sector collaborative formed to address the problems of New Jersey’s aging urban water infrastructure, today released its workplan for 2016. Read the rest of this entry »

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